Levy/Levine Surname Genealogy
“joining.” The name was born by a son of Jacob and Leah in
Genesis. From the tribe of Levi came the Levites who formed a
hereditary caste and had distinctive duties during the Temple
variants are Levi, Levy, Levin and Levine. Levine was
the common Russian derivative of Levi. Levin has
both Russian and Swedish origins.
The Jews had
been expelled from England in 1290 and were not to return until the
1650’s. It was then that Jewish merchants in London, having
perhaps previously presented themselves as Portuguese, could legitimize
their presence as Jews. By 1730 it was estimated that there were
some 6,000 Jews living in London.
The Levy brothers were apparently in business in the East End of London
from 1710 as matzo bakers.
controversy to name London’s oldest shop. They said that Levy Bros,
Matzo bakers of 31 Widegate Street on the corner of White Rose Court,
had been established in 1710. They went on to say: ‘Antiquarians
who love old pieces of architecture will find pleasure in studying the
curious old carvings in the front of the quaint pointed roofs of the
premises of this well known matzo baker.'”
There were other early
Levy families in London in the late 18th century and the
Levy numbers increased in the 19th. One
family history traces itself back to Moses and Deborah Levy in the late
1800’s. Another recounted the journey of Rabbi Aaron Levy to
Australia in 1830 to get a bill of divorce for the wife of a
transported Jewish convict. The mid 19th century recorded Levys
in London as orange merchants on Mitre Street, furniture sellers on
Sandy’s Row, and street sellers on Petticoat Lane.
America. The first
planned Jewish community in America was that established by 42 mainly
Portuguese Jews who had come from London and arrived in Savannah in the
new colony of Georgia in 1733. Two of these original settlers,
Dr. and Mrs. Samuel Nunes Ribeiro, were the forebears of the first
well-known Levys/Levins in America, the naval commander Uriah Phillips
Levy and, via a maternal link, the anti-Catholic politician Lewis Charles Levin.
Uriah Levy was born into a large Jewish family from Philadelphia, but
at the age of ten to serve as a cabin boy on a trading ship. He
joined the US Navy.
firsthand, Levy joined those who opposed corporal punishment For
this he was court-martialed in 1857 and dismissed from the
service. Levy fought the decision through a Court of Inquiry and
was reinstated. After his reinstatement, he rose to command the
Mediterranean fleet and received the honorary rank of Commodore.”
Uriah, an ardent Jeffersonian, purchased Jefferson’s mansion at
Monticello. He also made a fortune in New York real estate, as
did his nephew Jefferson Monroe Levy who owned Monticello from 1878 to
1923. The Levys’ role in preserving Monticello
been downplayed by later Jeffersonians.
Moses Elias Levy, the son of an affluent Sephardic merchant in Morocco,
started trading in the West Indies and then bought land in Florida,
near present-day Jacksonville, to establish what he envisaged to be a
“New Jerusalem” for Jewish settlers. He was one of the few Jewish
plantation owners in the South; and yet he also wrote
and published abolitionist tracts. His son David Levy Yulee, who
shared little of his father’s beliefs, sought acceptance instead from
Southern society and rose to become Florida’s first Senator in 1845.
Jacob and Henry Levy, two brothers from Posen in Poland, were amongst
those who flocked to California when news about the gold there
spread. Jacob stayed, married, and lived in Carson City and San
Francisco for the rest of his life.
Later came the Levins and Levines to America, mainly from Russia.
The peak years for
their immigration were from 1890 to
1910. The following were among those arrivals from Lithuania:
- Morris and
Molly Levin who came
to Dayton, Ohio in the 1890’s. Their son Sam built up a movie
there and then prospered as a commodities speculator.
- Rive Levine who came in 1907 and settled in
- and Leib and Basia Levin who arrived in 1909 and settled in
Philadelphia. Their daughter
Anna, interviewed in 1997 just before her death, could recall her life
back in Kelme, Lithuania. Her son Jack Levin Weinstein narrated
family story in his 1987 book The
Levin Family Tree.
The Levi name in America is probably best known for Levi’s jeans, first
made by the German-Jewish entrepreneur Levi Strauss in San Francisco in
Caribbean. Some Leviens
made it to Jamaica. According to synagogue records, the Leviens
had originally migrated from Germany to London in the 1760’s and later
moved to Jamaica. Sydney Levien was a prominent newspaper editor
and Government critic there in the 1860’s.
Herman and Camilla Levy came to Hamilton,
Ontario from Alsace Lorraine in 1866 and were prominent members of the
Jewish community there. Herman
established a successful business called Levy Brothers which
diamond and jewelry importing. His
also named Herman, amassed a distinguished art collection which he
McMaster University in the 1980’s.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
David Levi, born to a
poor immigrant family,was an 18th century English scholar and writer.
Uriah Levy was the first Jewish
Commodore in the US Navy.
He later made a fortune in New York real estate.
Levine was an early 20th century New York mobster.
Bernard Levin was a well-known
English journalist, author, and broadcaster.
David Levine was an American
artist and illustrator best known for his work in The New York Review of Books.
Leon Levine founded the Family Dollar chain of discount
Select Levys/Levines Today
- 13,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 46,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
- 16,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
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